March 6, 2016 – A South Florida scuba diver came within an inch of his life as he was sucked into a giant intake pipe of a St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant. Above the surface, his family panicked. Now, he plans to sue the company running the plant.
Christopher Le Cun was enjoying a summer day scuba diving and boating with his friends and family one day off the coast of Hutchinson Island. He had no idea he was about to experience the longest five minutes of his life. That day, the intake pipe of a nearby nuclear power plant sucked him in along with thousands of gallons of water.
“I knew something was drawing all this water,” Chris recalls. “All I could think about was these horror movies you know, this big turbine coming and I’m coming for it. You know, it’s going to chop me up and kill me,” Chris said with tears in his eyes.
It all started when Christopher and his friend Blake spotted a yellow buoy, which marked three submerged structures so large their silhouettes can be seen hundreds of yards above. So, the two dived in to check it out.
“I swam right up to this big structure and it looks like a building underwater,” Chris said. “I felt a little bit of current. All of a sudden it got a little quicker and I said, ‘this ain’t right, this ain’t right.'”
Blake said he saw Christopher get “sucked in like a wet noodle.”
“I saw my friend die,” Blake said.
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He rushed to the surface and yelled at everyone that Chris was gone and something had “sucked him in.” Chris’ wife Brittany thought he was joking. Then, she saw the look on his face.
Down below, Chris was staring at death. The ordeal lasted only five minutes, but it was long enough for Chris to think.
“I contemplated, you know, do I just pull the regulator out of my mouth and just die? I started thinking about my family, you know, how are they going to survive without me?” Chris said.
Luckily, his family didn’t have to think about it.
“All of a sudden it looks like a match, out in the distance, just the littlest bit of what you’ve ever seen,” Chris explains. “When it gets a little bigger, then a little bigger. Then all of a sudden just, poof, daylight. Fish everywhere, crystal-clear water the sun is shining and I’m like, ‘is this heaven?'”
Battered and bruised, he pulled himself out of one of the plant’s reservoirs and saw an employee.
He immediately asked for a phone to call his wife.
Brittany ignored his first few calls as she was desperately calling police to save her husband.
“Something’s just telling me to pick up the phone so I did,” said Brittany.
Chris was on the other side. “I’m alive,” he said.
Now, Chris is leading a lawsuit against Florida Power & Light, which runs the plant. He says there were no warning signs at the buoy before he dived.
A spokesman for the pant said that since the buoy was built, it has had a sign reading “Stay back 100 feet.”
FLP told NBC news that “the diver intentionally swam into one of the intake pipes after bypassing a piece of equipment meant to minimize the entry of objects”
The company refused to discuss the pending litigation.